Originally published: 1937, revised 1962
288 pages
Chapter 23


Wilhelm Ropke

The first truth that strikes one about this book is historical: it was suppressed and then banned in Nazi Germany at the start of World War II. The freedom it espoused and substantiated as necessary for the establishment of a viable economy simply frightened the Third Reich. The second verity is subtle: a political and social balance-sometimes exquisite, sometimes casual, never static-is necessary for a free economy to exist.
     Achieving a free economy is not easy. As Wilhelm Ropke demonstrates in this volume, democratic governments often suffer from expansive and intrusive pseudo-melioristic impulses. These usually stem from one of several causes: righteous indignation, a Mother Theresa complex, "intellectual" arrogance, or just pure flights of economic fancy for which no basis can be found in reality but which offer very real political advantages. These inspirations always have some predictably negative effect on the free-market capitalism that supports overall societal success.
     As is evident in other chapters of First Principles, the devil of economic truth lies in the details. Ropke offers in Economics of the Free Society what a free economy should look like-warts and all. Although it is easy to explain where overweening government goes wrong-as Frederic Bastiat, Henry Hazlitt, and Milton Friedman do in their efforts (Chapters 7, 24, 25 respectively)-it is not as easy to describe just exactly what free-enterprise capitalism should look like. Ropke sets the standard.
     The lessons here are relatively simple, but like those of Ludwig von


Mises (Chapters 32 and 40) they traverse almost the entire landscape of economic reality to arrive at their conclusions. Ropke reduces the complex to the understandable by effectively explaining the interrelatedness of a free enterprise system's individual parts and how those segments interact with political freedom. When we understand those relationships we have an increased chance of avoiding the great pitfall of intrusive government: the law of unintended consequences.
     A recurrent theme in most of the literature about man's attempts to govern himself provides Ropke's starting point:

               The great risks implicit in an extreme dependence of all individuals in
               society upon each other are tolerable in the long run only where an
               efficiently administered legal system and an unwritten but generally
               accepted code of minimum moral precepts assure to the participants . . .
               that they will be able to carry on their activities in an atmosphere of
               mutual confidence and security. Economic history is a constant
               illustration of the truth that the intensity of economic activity rises or
               falls in the degree to which these conditions are fulfilled.
[Emphasis added]

     We see here a reprise of Russell Kirk's narration of the history of morality in The Roots of American Order (Chapter 4). In that book, Kirk establishes that the unwritten rules of social
interaction, which are too many and too complex to codify, must persist within everyone's understanding for a society to function. If these rules are not uniformly assimilated there can be no faith in the system, nor can people trust one another's judgment or integrity, nor, ultimately, can there be any system at all. The two props upon which such an arrangement is founded are enlightened self-interest and the Golden Rule (referring here, in particular, to its practical application, not directly to its pan-religious significance). These must guide human behavior. The political ramification, if these understandings are present, is that government can be quite limited. The people will turn only sparingly to the legislature and will infrequently need to seek judicial recourse to settle disputes. Most citizens will be able to resolve their controversies informally or, better still, avoid them in the first place-because all are grounded in the same reality.
     After setting these moral foundations, so necessary for a free society to exist, Ropke proceeds with an investigation of the mechanisms


that allow the free market to operate. His conclusions are instructive in that they reveal the weave of the social and economic fabric, the strength of which over centuries has proven capable of sustaining whole cultures. By way of example, one of his longer and more arcane but important chapters deals with money-the means of exchange and the structural foundation of any economy. Although that sounds obvious and perhaps banal, money is a complex entity and understanding its uses and effects is essential to understanding all economic relations. The credit, or monetary, system of any given economy can either stabilize or exacerbate inflationary pressures whether they arise from economic, social, or governmental actions. Controlling inflation is crucial to economic fitness. In the end, Ropke wants his readers to accept the rudimentary importance of the monetary system being used-that unless it is healthy there is no second step toward a sound government or a sound society.
     Another particularly valuable lesson, because it is so current, is found in the way Ropke lays out the economics of a global marketplace. He explains the operation of borderless economics; that is, a free market that operates in the absence of a worldwide social and legal system. The creation and implementation of a uniform international system of laws, even one that relates only to commerce, is likely to remain a practical and intellectual improbability for the foreseeable future. The characteristics of a borderless system, on the other hand, are essentially the same as those of a market within a single country-in each case enlightened self-interest is always the key. Ropke observes that in the field of international commerce where the enforcement of contracts is less than certain and fraught with cultural (not to mention legal) obstacles, integrity becomes more important than law. A lack of integrity to one's promises results in commercial ostracism, probably a more devastating punishment than mere legal responsibility. Ropke predicts the future of international economic activity in the twenty-first century (which at the time he wrote was more than six decades distant) with a prescience that creates confidence in the remainder of his observations. Those who deride efforts to make world trade efficient and reliable-efforts that help all countries and all people-will benefit greatly from Ropke's explanation of the practical side of global wealth creation.
     When Ropke dissects international trade, he brings the issue down to its core element: Global commerce is nothing more than a process where


               exactly as with internal trade it rests on the division of labor and on
               the exchange of goods resulting from this division of labor . . . . Foreign
               trade is similar to a labor-saving machine or to any other method of
               lowering the cost of production.

After observing isolationist tendencies in the less developed nations, Ropke opines, "Poor countries can afford even less than rich ones to shut themselves off from the world economy." An example: the division of labor, by means of which poorer countries can obtain and benefit from advanced technology that they cannot develop on their own, becomes a lever that operates in both directions. The less developed nations supply raw materials and labor in exchange for machinery and technology; both parties to the transaction profit.
     In today's climate of globalization, which is the inevitable result of free trade and technological progress, applying the principles of the free enterprise system to international markets is hardly novel. After all, Adam Smith had discussed the benefits of global trade nearly two hundred years earlier, in 1776 in Wealth of Nations (Chapter 12). Ropke affirms and deepens Smith's insights, an important effort for today's readers who may be overwhelmed by protectionist cant and accusations of imperialist designs, accusations that are almost invariably contrary to good sense and common experience, but which are politically convenient and effective.
     Because of the era in which he wrote, Ropke had to dislodge socialistic thinking while presenting the fundamentals of a free economy. Much of his book nevertheless still rings true in our time when state welfarism and nascent attempts at global (not just national) wealth redistribution offer trite and uniformly failed promises. As Ropke and many others observe, socialism is simply an excess of intellect over experience. For the modern reader the import of this old adage can be ignored only at one's peril, for utopian ideals are reborn with every generation. Although Ropke abbreviates his investigation of socialism for reasons of economy (socialism, he observes, had been minutely examined by too many other writers for him to iterate all its flaws), he often can't avoid enumerating some of its deficiencies in order to explain the permutations of capitalism.
In a later era, Ronald Reagan succinctly expressed capitalism's essence in 1987 when he spoke at the Berlin Wall:


               Just as truth can flourish only when the journalist is given freedom of
               speech, so prosperity can come about only when the farmer and
               businessman enjoy economic freedom.

Ropke anticipated Reagan's insight with a penetrating question and its answer:

               Who is charged with seeing to it that the economic gears of society
               mesh properly? Nobody.

And, of course, everybody. How much more simple could it be? Adam Smith's "invisible hand" and Thomas Jefferson's admonition "that government governs best which governs least" are both at work in a free society's mostly uncontrolled economic system. Although constraints against monopoly and against deceit, dishonesty, and corruption are indispensable, an otherwise free economic system (born of a free market where the division of labor is allowed to operate unimpeded) will bring the most of the best to the greatest number of citizens. While the consumer sometimes needs protection, such defense of his well-being must begin as his own personal
responsibility. It cannot be sought exclusively in rules and regulations and legislation and judicial decisions. If individuals look to others for safety the resulting protective measures soon become prescriptions, then demands, and ultimately laws, which, of course, beget more laws because law is such an inefficient mechanism to guide human behavior. This is all to the detriment of freedoms, large and small. In spite of Benjamin Franklin's intention to address freedom in the context of government, the essence of his thoughts apply as well to ordinary economic life: "those who are willing to give up a little [economic] freedom to obtain a little [economic] security deserve neither."
     If we ask the state to make us secure in our financial lives rather than taking that responsibility upon ourselves we give up our freedom on all issues that we abandon to the decisions, whims, or desires of government functionaries. The incremental loss of freedom eventually becomes a monumental, then a tyrannical loss. In the United States, think of OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration), which tells us, as though common sense does not exist, how to use a ladder ("If you climb on this device you may fall and injure yourself.")


or the believable but sardonic and mythical twelve thousand pages of regulations on the planting, growing, harvesting, selling, distributing, and consuming of cabbage supposedly promulgated by the Agriculture Department. How and how aggressively our government will proceed from these two virtually insignificant (unless you are a cabbage farmer) but magnificently distorting intrusions only Rube Goldberg or the Devil can imagine. We may be certain, though, that the effects on our freedom will not be mythical.
     In offering his overview of free-market economics Ropke discusses wealth creation, the distribution of income, and monopolies. The monopoly we call government actually means we the people since the government has nothing, neither money nor power, unless it first gets such from us. This monopoly causes the greatest distortions in any economy by spending money (redistributing income) to cure discerned social ills. Ropke sees this almost always as an exercise in welfarism. He holds that an economist's (as opposed to a politician's) assessment of any such activity would not pay attention to how worthy any particular ill is of being fixed or even if it can be better fixed by leaving the citizens to their own devices. Whether the ill is accidental, self-inflicted, or societally induced is of no import. The critical matter for the economist to consider (for that person is not a social engineer) is the creation of wealth. This wealth has two purposes: it can be taxed to allow for the very public expenditures that the political class thinks of as its own, while at the same time it decreases the need for public expenditures because as wealth is created there is increased employment, which means fewer government actions are needed to care for the populace that now cares for itself.
     According to Ropke, if taxes are not levied on this wealth (or are kept low) then the gains to the individual (and thus the society) become a vehicle through which all types of additional private sector activity and solutions can occur. With this additional personal income the economy is able to more efficiently address ills in myriad ways-ways that the politician or bureaucrat often cannot or will not see-while still ensuring the market continues to function. Many private solutions to public issues (always voluntary in nature) are explored in depth by Richard Cornuelle in Reclaiming the American Dream (Chapter 30). Understanding Cornuelle's premise reminds us of what we used to do as a society and how the state has inappropriately co-opted the popular impulse toward charity or good works and driven out both citizen sense and citizen participation in the bargain.


     Ropke sees most social engineers as oblivious to these facts. The righteous see something "wrong" and they want a remedy, usually through governmental intervention, meaning using
someone else's resources. (Just as often they are interested in achieving some political end-either their own or that of their political party.) They begin their involvement with the problem some distance from its genesis. Ropke surmises that if they were to trace any given situation to its origin they would see that it is likely amenable to alleviation through private initiatives and at the local level where solutions can be tailored to specific circumstances and defined populations.
     In pursuing the ill and its resolution via government action the social engineers will be faced with the challenge of structuring the solution so it actually achieves the desired effect to discourage the problem's persistence or recurrence. But the government's action will also have to take into account the strong possibility of unintended consequences from this new action that may unwittingly create further ills. Of course, the initial ill very likely was an unintended consequence of some previous government action. In the end, if those who see government as the solution to anything were to delve to a problem's roots they might humbly question whether the social benefit to be achieved by governmental intervention would not be outweighed by damage done to other parts of society. Structurally, government intervention (again, made possible only through taxation) universally discourages the creation of wealth and employment that in all likelihood could and would solve the problem privately if left to its own devices. Ropke raises these relevant questions as part of his study of the totality of economic, cultural, and governmental relationships so that some type of practical analysis can be brought to real-world problems.
     In Ropke's hands, the topic of monopolistic practices (the alleged existence of which is the subject of ever-present assertions of the need for governmental intervention) seems less complex than it might. The biggest threat to the market is not private monopoly but government monopoly-almost no private monopolies exist except those that are founded in and granted by action of the state. Ropke finds the recommendations of some who wish to preclude potential capitalistic monopolies (by means of more government regulations and control) even more bizarre than the reasons given as to why the private tendency toward monopoly is so supposedly dangerous in the first place. In point of fact, monopolies don't tend to persist in a free market. As soon as someone attempts to establish a monopoly,


others replicate, imitate, improve upon the product or service, etc., so that the monopoly disappears. In Ropke's hands, the discussion of monopolies is sensible, not emotional; rational, not distorted by accusation of public harm unfounded in fact.
     As it was in Ropke's era, the question today is not whether the state will monopolize the means of production and distribution but how the fruits of production and distribution will be taxed-and then "used" for the citizenry. Taxation is obviously a government monopoly. As the levels are reduced or increased the monopoly (on claiming any given economy's wealth) issue arises: will the populace be free to order their own world-will incentive be allowed to work its magic at all levels of society?
     The secondary issue stemming from Ropke's discussion of monopolies concerns regulation of the economy. Should it be regulated? If so, how and when? The answers in any given period define and redefine the size and effect of the state. In his detailed analysis of these phenomena Ropke investigates and exposes the myriad truths and myths of an ordered economy in an attempt to make sense of how the legitimate interests of the state and the individual should interact. (For an expanded discussion of these two issues, see John Chamberlain's The Roots of Capitalism [Chapter 26] and Charles Murray's In Pursuit: Of Happiness and Good Government [Chapter 31].)
     Some of the most interesting and arguably most valuable few pages of this book present Ropke's reflections on the work of an outsized twentieth-century economist, John Maynard Keynes, as Ropke compares Keynes to the eighteenth century's Adam Smith. Keynes is probably the best-known if not most talented economist of the era stretching from the turn of the twentieth century to the end of World War II. He was at first the darling of macroeconomists and political leaders because of his espousal of inflationary deficit government spending as the antidote to devastating boom-and-bust business cycles.
     Politicians loved Keynesian economics because they got to spend the public's money or to print money that had no justifiable existence other than through Keynes's theories, and then claim a mantel of care while doing so. Under the guise of doing a public good these politicians got re-elected for doing exactly the wrong thing. Keynesian economics was the politician's dream policy. Ultimately, though, he became the bane of some of these same admirers when it was seen that this tool's unintended consequences caused more problems than


it solved. Ropke, finding Keynes's tenure on center stage bittersweet (recall, they were contemporaries, talking to the same audiences), also detected him getting full of himself (messianic is the word that Ropke uses) and in the process doing even more harm when he moved from theorizing in an academic manner to pontificating from political platforms.
     Keynes and Keynesian economics crop up incessantly, even today, and Ropke's assessment of how Keynes went wrong makes for useful reading given all that we have learned about economics since his generation. And the admonition again arises that although Keynesianism, like many other -isms, may be defunct now, we must know it and recognize it as it is sure to revive at some future time. (How that happens is a two-fold process: first, there are still educational or theoretical materials in existence that people will find and mistakenly or naively believe are true, no matter how false they have been proven to be; second, there are few elected or bureaucratic officials who will not hear the siren song of the free lunch Keynesianism seems to offer. They are drawn to it as alchemists were drawn to the possibility of turning lead into gold in the Middle Ages.)
     Ropke's goal was to offer comprehensive and comprehensible observations about the fundamentals of a stable economy. He describes a national economy in detail, then meshes that with international trade, and proceeds to show the effects of various policies on each. He explains the factors of production and takes pains to analyze capital (generally meaning money), always the most ephemeral and misunderstood element in any economy. His discussion of a country's fiscal assets and policies provides a useful perspective on capitalism's most valuable and pervasive and perhaps most maligned tools. He examines population size in relation to the division of labor, compulsory unionism versus the right to contract freely, speculators (a group about whom Ropke offers a particularly useful analysis), the monetary and credit system, the attention-grabbing problem of inflation, and many other factors common to all large, complex economies. In sum, he omits little in his coverage of economic realities.
     Ropke's penchant for citing particulars and details facilitates his demonstration of how an amorphous yet interconnected system of production, distribution, and consumption works efficiently only when left to its own devices. Push in at one place and inevitably the system pushes back or becomes skewed in another. Hence, we have to be careful how we intrude. Understanding all of
these details makes a


citizen out of a taxpayer. Without the knowledge and experience offered in Ropke's full but simplified analysis, people often remain victims of government, and politicians, rather than masters.
     In his overview, Ropke steps back to look at the then-ongoing war between capitalism and collectivism/socialism. He acknowledges that he didn't take socialism to task in a thorough manner, because this collectivist aberration was widely recognized as a failed philosophy, defensive of an insupportable economic structure. He concludes that

               these degenerate aspects [the arguments in favor of socialism] are so
               obvious to everybody, they are the subject of such an extensive and
               overly emotional literature, that it is the duty of the scholar to emphasize
               the other side of the picture and to lead the discussion back to an
               understanding of the foundations of our economic system.

     If one is interested in the details, goals, and methods of socialism, Ludwig von Mises's Socialism (Chapter 32) is probably the most comprehensive (and understandable) critique of the scores and scores of books on the character of socialist philosophy. Mises wrote Socialism in 1922, yet the manner in which he covers the entire subject remains as alive and valid today as it was then. As has been previously observed, the reader needs to be versed in these matters because in the current era socialist thinking is the impetus behind the welfare state. The mechanics are somewhat different (and only somewhat) but the goal and the effect are not. The bankrupt logic of the welfare state is nothing but the same heedless understandings of socialism repackaged for the twenty-first century. A volume that meshes well with those of both Ropke and Mises is Richard Pipes's Property and Freedom (Chapter 11). Pipes's work provides an understanding of the necessary conjunction between the substance of capitalism (which is property) and freedom-the essence of the human experience.
     Ropke evinces a belief that if people simply understood capitalism better they would reject socialism, and by inference the welfarism so popular with generous and self-serving politicians. We daily witness the undeniable harm done by a culture of dependency, by "entitlements," by the ubiquitous attitude that nothing that goes wrong is our fault, and by the quasi-religious faith that a lot more government will fix almost anything. Demagoguery along these lines-that the wealthy,


the corporations, and the internationalists vex us with various afflictions because they are greedy-denies economic facts.
     Although today's enemies of capitalism and freedom do not generally aim to overthrow our economic system they do advocate defiance of the principles on which it operates (and, in the bargain, common sense) thus adding further to a thorough misunderstanding of its capabilities. In the end, if the demagogues do enough damage they will innocently claim that they were just trying to do the right thing, without understanding in the least how they did exactly the wrong thing. The further Americans get from seeing through the misleading dogma of statist fanatics the greater the chance that they will make a wrong turn and find only a dead end as they seek a short cut to some supposedly quantifiable concept of "social justice," or even the proverbial free lunch.
     “Social justice” is obviously a concept intended to sound virtuous.  It is presented without much explanation or what it would look like once attempted, or even what it would take to achieve if it could be defined.  In modern politics it has come to serve as the liberal’s universal attack phrase.  Yet it must be recognized that actions taken to find an ephemeral end such as this empowers only government, not the people who are thoughtlessly intended to be aided.  There is a simple reason government is unqualified to be an arbiter of something as unquantifiable as “social justice:” any attempt would be no more perfect, or wise, or even fair than are the ever-changing politicians and bureaucrats who would be in charge at any given time.  The corruption of personal freedom that must be evident with the idea of giving government the control of an individual’s life or property is so obvious that the larger picture is often missed in the false but feel-good atmosphere that decries differences of any sort. 
     Subjective determination of supposed equality, clothed as “social justice,” could be based on only one factor, as ephemeral as the idea itself: fairness.  Unfortunately fairness is a concept that is never more than opinion.  The follow-on questions are not addressed: fair to whom, fair in what measure, what logical and even unintended consequences will follow?  The inquiry is never made of how much harm is there to the individual when someone else’s view of fairness stands to be imposed.  The opposite question is also never asked: how much can be taken from those who supply the resources to achieve “social justice,” and what happens to the system when we begin to take more than that group


thinks is fair to them.  The “social justice” paradigm is the foundation of class warfare, a political tool theoretically abandoned in America when individual freedom became the basis of the national compact. 
     When opinion morphs into a claim of “social” justice, or right, with the power of state enforcement, it becomes simultaneously politically correct and socially destructive.  In even offering a goal of “social justice” the ideas of post-democratic socialists/liberals become apparent: it is to elevate their idea of government above politics—to make life, via political proclamation and bureaucratic control, more than what it is or can be: equal by all measure.  Government concentration and centralization at the federal level, and then at the state level, where dreams of a perfect world are seen in everyday pronouncements, fail to grasp everyday reality.  Social justice” is yet another concept that defies principle and thus one that must be factually confronted where its false premises arise.
The final piece of Ropke's explication of the free-enterprise system addresses the dangerous and widespread economic illiteracy he witnessed (one of the three motivating concerns of First Principles, the other two being constitutional illiteracy, and moral/ethical bewilderment and corruption founded in political correctness and moral relativism). Economic illiteracy allows simplistic and inadequate answers to complex social realities to seem credible. Ropke makes the point that people don't take the time to understand capitalism and its indispensable foundation, the
open society. The polity seems to indulge in an almost willful blindness or laziness:

               The first duty of an economist [or a citizen] . . . is to establish an exact
               understanding of two things: the economic system which we have and
               the one which we would establish in its place . . . [so] we will have a
               full awareness of all that we would give up, and all that we would
               receive, in choosing the one or the other.

After exhorting both the teachers and the students to learn, to expel ignorance, Ropke notes a serious difficulty:

               It is, indeed, disquieting to find how small a minority in any country
               really understands the essence of our economic system. . . . That the
               number is so small is in itself a cause for concern, since the overwhelming
               majority of those who

              are engaged in passing random judgments on our economic system seek
              disparage the minority who do understand it as ignorant and biased
              spectacle to be met with in no other science.

                                                                                                        [Emphasis added]

The italicized clause speaks to a continuing problem manifest in the growing divisiveness when public debate regarding economic issues ensues. Specifically, the "passing random judgments" thought applies to two groups of people. The first group encompasses various activists, pundits, "experts" (whether or not they actually are), editorialists, broadcast news readers, and politicians-all of whom are often guilty, to one degree or another, of passing economic fallacy off as gospel. Some do this out of ignorance, some for ignoble reasons.
     In the second group appear the victims, the often-duped voters who respond to the economic representations advanced by members of the first group that may or may not have any validity. The second group's economic ignorance is obviously the major contributing factor to the efficacy of the first group's designs, for economic ignorance allows demagoguery to flourish. The often fanatic speakers frequently pontificate in naive terms of justice and fairness, neither of which is as easily achieved or as black and white as the lecturer would have us believe. Too many of us allow ourselves to be led, almost to the exclusion of making our own decisions, because we don't take the time to understand economic fundamentals. Without that understanding, we can do little but accept the judgments visited upon us. At the most basic level this is often abetted by the repetition of false premises. As Vladimir Lenin, leader of the 1917 Russian Revolution observed "A lie repeated often enough becomes the truth." Thus is the circle closed.
     While Ropke covers the essentials of free enterprise in a reasonably comprehensive manner, he intentionally leaves some gaps so as not to confuse the subject with too many details. The interested reader may complete an investigation of free market economics by reading Ludwig von Mises's The Theory of Money and Credit (Chapter 34). Although Mises's title sounds daunting, his prose is clear and expressive. His book remains surprisingly useful despite the fact that it was written almost a century ago.
     Ropke's readers should be aware that he uses the words liberal and collectivist in their traditional European meanings as he juxtaposes his views and understandings in relation to various economic configurations. His is one of those books written by early twentieth-century


European authors that uses the word liberal in the same sense that conservative or classical liberal is used in the U.S. today. Ropke's use of "collectivist" generally corresponds to "socialist" in modern parlance.

About the Author
Born in Hanover, Germany at the very end of the nineteenth century, Wilhelm Ropke-the man and the philosopher-was a product of twentieth-century excesses. The son of a physician, his upbringing was grounded in traditional Protestant teachings whose influence on his thinking appears over and over in his work. He fought as a soldier in the trenches during World War I; as a result of that brutal experience he sought to understand the causes of such devastating conflicts, thus he pursued the study of economics and sociology. (To understand how the same circumstances could lead to a completely opposite personal course that also had profound public consequences, see Witness [Chapter 41] by Whittaker Chambers, a contemporary of Ropke.) Upon receiving his doctorate Ropke became a professor in Germany.
     Ropke's reputation as an individualist thinker was well earned. He was not afraid to look at first causes; his ability and drive to do so marked his career and works. He taught in Germany until he was forced to leave the country in 1932 because of his outspoken opposition to Nazism. He resided in Istanbul and taught at the university there from 1932 until 1937. He then returned to Europe and began a career at the Institute of International Studies in Geneva, Switzerland, where he embarked on a collaborative professional life with Ludwig von Mises. Although von Mises emigrated early in World War II, Ropke remained in Geneva throughout the Second World War and for the rest of his academic life.
     Ropke, along with von Mises, Frederich von Hayek, Milton Friedman, and others who were ultimately awarded Nobel Prizes in economics, formed the Mont Pelerin Society in Switzerland in 1947. Their intent was to publicize the folly of collectivism and to decry socialist ideology and its increasing erosions of liberty. The philosophy of the Mont Pelerin Society succeeded in spite of the fears of its founders and exceeded even the most optimistic of its members' expectations. Ropke married in 1924 and raised three children with his wife, Eva. He died in 1966.

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